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Toddlers who WON'T EAT

(25 Posts)
LadyintheRadiator Mon 01-Mar-10 13:26:49

At my wit's end, please please please help me

DS goes through these little phases of being picky and suspicious of new food. I can deal with that. He also goes through phases of not eating much, but drinking more milk. I can deal with that too.

But now he is not eating or drinking much milk and is generally being a nightmare.

I have made him a nutella sandwich for lunch. He hasn't even picked the flipping thing up, is just sitting in his high chair saying no no no no no no no.

Today he has had 1/8 of a pear, and about 5 mini shredded wheat. Oh and 3 grapes.

How do I deal with this? He also refuses most dinners at the moment, even stuff like beans on toast... then he is waking up hungry. And then because he is awake in the night, he is filling a nappy and so needs changing.


He is 2.4

luciemule Mon 01-Mar-10 13:55:09

Hi LITR - my DS is the same except that he's always been like that since being weaned and still like it now (5).
I really feel for you but if like me and DH, you get stressed with him/about him, he'll know and do it even more.
Firstly, rule out any illness and then just keep giving him what you know he'll eat.
If he's 2.4, he is old enough to be sitting at the table and not in his high chair now so perhaps if you got him to 'help' make some lunch for you and him, and then get him to help you set the table etc and say what a big, clever boy he is, he might think it's fun and feel more included if not in his high chair.
There are loads of reasons he's perhaps not eating what you want him to eat/quantity, like teething, power thing or coming down with a virus.
Try to write down over a day what he eats altgether and you'll see it doesn't look as bad as when you think about it for each meal.
With my DS, once we stopped telling/asking him to eat one more mouthful etc, and took my mum's advice of only giving him what we know he will eat (plate of cooked carrots and sweetcorn), he seemed to improve. He only still eats little bits and is very reluctant to try new foods but I kind of know what he does like and try to give him those things just to calories in him.
Try to give him choices too, eg, "would you like cheerios or weetabix?" "shall we have apple or yoghurt?" Only give a choice of 2 things at a time though or he'll get confused.
You're defo not on your own though - HVs have ignored me in the past when I asked for help so eventually, I went with my instincts.

notnowbernard Mon 01-Mar-10 13:56:52

No experience with this, but a few thoughts:

Coming down with something?


BertieBotts Mon 01-Mar-10 14:00:19

Is there anything that he will eat? My DS often doesn't eat a lot or just picks at things and will wake in the night hungry. I have started making sure he always has a yoghurt before bed whether he has eaten his tea or not. I have also used in the past cereal or toast - something fairly filling.

One of those small pots of yoghurt/fromage frais seems to be enough to keep him going until morning, so I don't worry too much about it now as long as he has eaten something. And f he does wake up - we just come downstairs and have a midnight feast. I appreciate not everyone can do this though (I am a SAHM and no other children so lie-in possible)

LadyintheRadiator Mon 01-Mar-10 14:03:27

Thanks luciemule and NNB... teething is usually the explanation but I think he's okay at the moment - and I know he would eat chocolate buttons or roast chicken till the cows come home, it is just everything else.

I do offer two choices usually - cereal or toast. He has a speech delay so sometimes he has trouble choosing, obviously I ask him to point or just say yes or no to get around it but there are times when I just don't know what he wants. I try to eat what he eats or similar so that he can see it's ok, nothing to be scared of... it's so tiring.

When I said high chair I mean babydan at the table, but he still sometimes uses the Ikea one if in the living room - lunch and dinner are at the table but I am slack on breakfast.

Was planning to make some muffins this afternoon and see if he will show an interest in the baking process, maybe that will help.

TheBreastmilksOnMe Mon 01-Mar-10 14:04:17

I would say firstly- STOP STRESSING! All toddlers go through fussy stages it is perfectly normal and the more stressed you get about it the more they will dig their heels in!

What I would do is at each mealtime just offer food as normal, if he doesn't eat it then take it away without a word and ask 'All done?'. Carry on as normal.

A toddler will not starve himself. Offer snacks as normal and meals and drinks as normal.

Have you tried letting him sit in an adult chair? A high chair is a bit young for him now. Letting him have an adult chair at the table might help to freshen things up for him. My DS who is 17mths has just started sitting on his own little chair and kiddy table and he loves it.

The night waking is by the by and should resove itself when he gets his appetite back. Just change his nappy and offer him a beaker of milk if he's hungry. A quick cuddle should reassure him and help him get back off to sleep.

TheBreastmilksOnMe Mon 01-Mar-10 14:07:05

If his speech is delayed you could try using Makaton sign language with him. I've used it with my own DS since he was 6mths old and another mindee who has delayed speech and it's wonderful for opening up communication and bridging the gap until they can say what they want. It really reduces toddler frustrations too.

notnowbernard Mon 01-Mar-10 14:08:56

If roast chicken is what he's into, I would probably offer this most days. Lots of toddlers have very limited selection of what they choose to eat, don't they

I'd probably do the 'whack a few things on the table' method and let him graze

You know, like a mini-picnic

missorinoco Mon 01-Mar-10 14:16:22

My silly son ds has just started sitting in an adult chair and is a bit better at the table for it.

He also eats better if he "helps" prepare the food, even if it's just stirring the beans for me.

He also loves choosing his plate and cup blue or green type choice rather than my breakable one or his plastic option.

Have fun with the muffins.

If all else fails, DS loves to cook suzywong's chocloate brownies and will eat the raw mixture, but not the cooked variety, which DH and I love. Try it. It'll might get him into baking and they are soooo good.

luciemule Mon 01-Mar-10 14:18:13

Have to agree with NNB about grazing. My DS would never so much as look at blueberries until one teatime, I grabbed the punnet with the lid on and put it in the middle of the table and didn't say anything. He took a look, took off the lid and gobbled loads (I assume as they weren't on his plate).
Once he's eaten more of what he does like, his tummy will stretch a bit and he'll feel more hungry and hopefully eat more.

LadyintheRadiator Mon 01-Mar-10 14:21:56

This is the highchair, and if eating in the living room he can choose to sit with me on the sofa, or sit in his Antilop, and he chooses the latter usually. The dining chairs are still too low for him and he is happy in his chair.

I can't really afford to do chicken most days but I do try to cook meals he likes as he won't even try anything new. But it's hard when out of the blue he refuses to eat something as basic as pasta.

I appreciate the replies and ideas. I used to do picnic-style lunches all the time - things like carrot and cucumber sticks, cubes of cheese, breadsticks, cooked meat, I suppose we just stopped as winter went on, IYKWIM? I should do more of it though.

TBOM I am starting to use some simple signs with him and he responds well and now signs thank you without being prompted

I may be going crazy inside about this but I assure you I don't get stressy about it at meal times. If he doesn't want to sit with us at the table and eat dinner, then fine, we get him down, no cajoling or pleading, but then now and then you think 'hang on, other kids bloody well eat so why won't you!!' and I wonder where he is getting his energy from.

I know they all do this, I know they go through phases, but it's hard to find the balance between accommodating a phase and encouraging fussiness. We had leek and smoked mackerel pasta bake yesterday, made with creme fraiche. I didn't expect him to wolf it down, far from it, but I think if he never sees different food, he has no chance of eating it so I feel I have to offer these things. But on the flipside I don't want to then be rushing to heat up some beans or make toast just because he won't try it, IYSWIM?

TheBreastmilksOnMe Mon 01-Mar-10 14:29:44

Great you're doing signing with him, it sounds like you are doing a great job with mealtimes too! Lots of lovely choice! You just need some reassurance that his eating is normal, toddler fussiness.

My DS eats like an anorexic sparrow most of the time but he is a nice weight and he has always been in charge of his appetite. I do worry sometimes that he's not getting enough but he always has bags of energy, he's gaining weight and there are no bones sticking out anywhere so I try and not worry too much!

I think food wastage is an inevitable part of having children and it's one of those things where you can either just learn to ignore your conscience or start a compost bin.

Keep up what you are doing, in another 6 months it will be a distant memory and he'll be onto a different phase!

LadyintheRadiator Mon 01-Mar-10 14:37:03

I think that's it TBOM, it's needing to know it's normal because I don't really expect there is any advice that will get him clearing his plate due to anything I do - he will eat more in his own time, or he won't. I do hate the waste but like you say it comes with the territory. He is a healthy weight, he won't waste away.

I'll try and do just his favourite dinners this week, and maybe offer more snacks (when he was eating well it was pretty much breakfast lunch and dinner but no harm in spreading the meals out is there?)

Right, decided on cherry shortbread courtesy of Annoying Katie from CBeebies... wink

<calm calm calm>

boredwithfoodprob Mon 01-Mar-10 14:58:21

Hello ladyinthe.... No advice here, just wanted to say that your DS could be mine! Although to be honest yours is probably better than mine! Mine has been terrible since he decided at 12 months that he would no longer be fed from a spoon and wanted to feed himself - this would be fine but he can't be bothered at all to do this so the range and amount of what he eats is tiny! Sometimes I get a bit depressed about it as my DH and I eat a great diet and I feel bad for my DS that he doesn't but I try my best and make sure I don't get stressed in front of him even though I feel like screaming "JUST EAT!!!!!!!!!!!" I am just hoping he will get better as he gets a bit older - good luck!!! To us both!

strig Mon 01-Mar-10 15:13:40

My DS who is 2.4 is also the same it is so frustrating - apparently I was exactly the same and drove my mum insane so I have to keep telling myself it will pass - and hopefully by the time he is 21 he will eat some vegetables! My DD is 6 months tomorrow and am dreading weaning as will no doubt have 2 that don't eat!

ArtyJennie Mon 01-Mar-10 16:39:39

I disagree with offering lo's only what they like in order to get them to eat- surely that will allow/encourage fussiness.

LadyintheRadiator it sounds like you are doing the right things- offer him a variety, dont make a fuss and he should eat. Toddlers wont starve- they'll eat when they are truely hungry- but if they know that they will be offered what they want if they avoid the 'healthy stuff' they will wait.

My mums friends dd's ds only eats choc and they let him! (which I see as child abuse quite frankly!) It started with them giving in to what he wanted to make him eat -ie sweet stuff- to the point where he would only eat chocolate!! shock

ps. I have found that giving lots of milk fills them up so les likely to eat

pps. Giving in to midnight feasts- this is surely madness! What fun this must be for a toddler- surely they would try to do it almost every night!

Marne Mon 01-Mar-10 17:00:50

Both of mine are bad eaters (dd1 now 6 and dd2 is 4), dd2 has been unwell on and off for a month and has hardly eaten a thing in this time, today is the first time she has eaten or asked for food since being unwell and all she wants is cake and biscuits. Dd1 has always been a fussy eater and refuses most warm foods, won't touch veg but will eat fruit. Sometimes i let them pick new things to try when we go shopping but dd1 will refuse anything that's not beige.

Because dd2 has lost weight i am letting her eat whatever she likes but pushing smoothies into her (to get some fruit into her).

I took dd1 to the GP last month because dd1 was refusing to eat and he told me to feed her whatever she will eat (which at the time was only home made pizza).

luciemule Mon 01-Mar-10 18:45:57

Offering your child what you know they'll eat isn't complete madness and is good for when you need them to eat more calories, for example in children who are food phobic (as my DS almost became).
In most toddler food books, it often says that when introducing new foods, you should still put familiar foods on their plate that they recognise. The very nature of toddlers is to eat what they know and naturally often don't try new foods easily.
Yes, too much giving in to them might encourage fussiness but when your child is eating so little that they're losing weight, giving them what you know they'll eat is important. My DS doesn't like chips, waffles, crisps and most chocolate so giving him what he wabts is usually a selection of veg and salad, cereal or yoghurt and cheese. I wouldn't say that would be detrimental.

BertieBotts Mon 01-Mar-10 23:32:00

Hmm, you would think that, Arty, but he doesn't. It happened about twice then he went to sleeping through again. He is younger than some of the other children in this thread though so probably just doesn't think of it as exciting and just as "Oh ok, it's time to get up now. Nom nom, lovely food. Ohh, I am tired again, back to bed."

inertiauk Wed 01-May-13 02:48:30

Hi, I'm really sorry to be bumping this post two years later but if you still use this forum, LadyintheRadiator, can you please tell me if this was actually just a phase? Did your DS start eating well again? My DD is going through this, but it's been months now - her doctor says it's just a phase, but I'm at my wits ends. She's also speech delayed, so I'm wondering if the speech delay has anything to do with the eating... I'm trying to get an occupational therapist to see her (I really believe she has some sort of eating disorder), but I was only able to book an appointment for June. sad

Thanks in advance.

TwentyTinyToes Wed 01-May-13 05:30:32

Have not read while thread so apologies if already mentioned but i always offer new foods i just make sure there is something on his plate that i know my ds likes e.g your mackeral pasta with broccoli on the side because i know he likes that. Then make sure the other meal of the day is something he definitely likes. I appreciate this is hard when they have such a limited diet.

Also i have moved dinner earlier, and introduced supper before bed, he is not as tired as when he ate later and i can sneak calories in at supper.

TwentyTinyToes Wed 01-May-13 05:31:49

Really ok thread i see.

TwentyTinyToes Wed 01-May-13 05:32:36

Old not ok!

Sunshine200 Thu 02-May-13 20:47:23

This probably sounds odd, and hard work so I only do it on occasions, but when dd won't eat and it's something I've spent a while preparing, or expensive (so I really want her to eat it) I get her Iggle Piggle teddy to feed it to her - Works a treat for a few mouthfuls at least, and sometimes
she will continue to eat after that!

Goldmandra Thu 02-May-13 20:54:02

He is a healthy weight, he won't waste away.

Focus on this ^ ^

He is getting enough calories. You are doing a good job.

Don't try to get him to eat more. Look at what he is eating now and just provide that because that is meeting his needs.

If he needs more you will know.

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